The best way to remove tar from paws!

Freya the cockapoo showing off her paws covered in tar.

Honestly, Freya has to be the queen of firsts. How on earth, on a cold February day, did she manage to find wet tar to trot through and arrive home with four paws coated in the treacly black stuff? Well in fairness, we do live on a new housing estate which is still part building site, but even so we have no idea where she picked it up. Luckily, Frankie was tar-free, probably due to the fact if there’s any grass to be found this is her pawfall of choice.

Naturally, I’m straight on Google as had no idea of the best way to go about cleaning the tar off Freya’s paws. As always – and anyone who has followed my blog will know – the whole reason ‘freyathecockapoo’ came about, was because each time I tried to find advice online as a novice dog owner, it was always wrapped in product selling. So without further ado – and any promotions whatsoever – here’s how I removed the tar from her paws.

How to remove tar from your dog’s paws

Image of comb, scissors, small dog clippers and petroleum jelly

Stage One: Gather your weapons
I groom the dogs myself so have various weaponry in stock, but really all you need are small scissors, petroleum jelly or vegetable oil, and a comb.

Stage Two: Bathe in warm soapy water.
After most walks, our dogs’ paws have a soak in warm, soapy water using a dog shampoo, as they have the run of the house. When bathing Freya, bizarrely I noticed her paws felt ‘heavier’ than normal; after inspection the reason why became very apparent. The pads of all four paws, along with the surrounding fur, were covered in soft tar.

Image illustrating the use of clippers to remove the tar covered fur between dog's paw pads

Stage Three: Clipping the fur
Clip off as much of the fur growing in between the paw sections as possible, taking care not to damage the skin so as not to attract infection. Then clip around the paws. Some of the tar had solidified to lumps so these were totally removed with scissors. Admittedly, the result will probably be a little uneven to say the least, but if you’re a doodle owner like me, you know how quickly their fur grows and so will be back to normal in no time.

Fur trimmed paw with petroleum jelly massaged onto the pads

Stage Four: Here comes the messy part
I tried to make this stage more palatable for Freya by encouraging her to lie down; she was understandably fed up by now. I then massaged petroleum jelly into the first paw (you could also use vegetable oil), and rubbed it off gently with a towel repeating the process until the paw left no tar residue (warning – the towel had to be thrown away afterwards!). I repeated this for each paw.

Image showing dog's paw completely clear of tar and looking healthy again

Stage Five: Finishing touches
I gave the paw surrounds a final trim to neaten them up and she was on her way. Even though the towel had rubbed off the surface jelly, it had left her paws dry, but soft and there was no need to bathe her again. The final finishing touch is always a high value treat. Naturally, which ever of the two dogs has a misdemeanour, I have to treat both regardless, so it was no pain and lots of gain for Frankie that day.

I must stress a caveat here. After over six-and-a-half years of caring for Freya (and four Frankie) I’m now totally confident managing a process like this. If you are in any doubt whatsoever, then seeking advice about removing tar from your dog’s paws from a groomer or vet is of course the best action.

If you’d like to learn more about how I began grooming my cockapoos you can find the full ‘how to’ story here.